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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

298       HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

proper teacher the father," is that the best education is family
education. The family stands midway between nature and
society, and there, better than anywhere else, the child can develop
his individual powers with the minimum of restraint, and yet
be prepared for his place in the great world of men.

The part played by considerations of age in education is the
central theme of thzEmile; and in spite of its many imperfections,
^Rousseau's discussion of it is one of the most valuable of his
contributions to the advancement of educational thought.   Start-
ing with the principle that every age has a special character of
its own, he divided the time of pupilage into four periods, and
tried to define their characteristic features as a preliminary to
the prescription of the appropriate education.   In distinguishing
the successive phases of childhood and youth he proceeded on
two lines.  On the one hand, he assumed a certain correspondence
between the growth of the individual person and what he took
to be the history of the race; and on the other hand, he thought
of childhood as a time of mental passivity from which there was
a gradual escape to the mental activity of manhood by a successive
maturing of faculties.   The first period is that of infancy, from
birth to the age of two.  The child at this age is to all intents and
purposes an animal, in a state of undifferentiated feeling, scarcely
more conscious of himself than in the pre-natal life.   The second
period is that of childhood, from two to twelve years of age.  The
child has now reached the level of savage man.  His mind is domin-
ated by the senses and lacks any proper power of reasoning.   He
is oblivious to moral considerations, his only law being the law
of physical necessity.  The third period is that of pre-adolescence,
lasting from twelve to fifteen.   The boy is now nearing the verge
of adult life and, like Robinson Crusoe, is capable of living a
self-sufficient life.   With new accessions of physical strength
intellect has made its appearance, and he regulates his actions
with a view to future consequences.   Conscience, however, is
still undeveloped, and personal utility is the sole motive in his
behaviour.   The fourth period is that of adolescence, extending
from fifteen to the time of marriage about twenty-five.   The sex
functions awaken, the youth undergoes a new birth, and true
social life begins.   Soul is now added to intellect and sense ; and
beauty, goodness, and truth acquire a personal value.  Conscience
rules life and virtue becomes possible.